HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia man is shooting for the stars and trying to develop the country’s first orbital launch vehicles to deliver satellites into outer space.
On Tuesday, 22-year old Tyler Reyno of Halifax launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for Open Space Orbital, a private company to be based in Halifax — with a manufacturing and engineering hub in Alder Point, Cape Breton — that would send satellites into space, via a rocket, in a cost-effective manner.
“I noticed there was this very large gap in the growing space industry,” said Reyno, who is the founder and CEO of Open Space. “We have all these satellites being developed and plan to be developed and no real rockets to deliver them into space.”
Reyno wants to raise $100,000 to develop and design a prototype of a rocket, which would be called Neutrino 1, conduct market analysis and cover costs related to permits.
He estimates the final price tag on his venture to be approximately $50 million.
Reyno said the company is meant to appeal to anyone interested in sending a satellite to outer space.
“We’re really the transportation that gets [the satellites] there,” he said, adding the functions of the satellites could include taking pictures of Earth, remote sensing, surveillance and communications.
“It’s very, very difficult for universities, small companies private institutions, public institutions to get devices, instruments into space these days at a reasonable cost,” said Tony Goode, an aerospace consultant and board member of Open Space.
“We do have a lot of great academic institutes, great companies developing these satellites but what typically happens is they either can’t afford the costs associated with launching into space or they have to piggy back, so to speak, on another satellite’s launch into space, which doesn’t guarantee it will be placed in the right orbit,” Reyno said.
Reyno said he wants Open Space to make space accessible to the public.
“What we’re trying to do is lower the cost of a launch, such that it will be more in reach for people,” he said.
He thinks the company can help fill the void left by government.
“We’re very confident we can do this. We have the expertise it takes to make this happen. We know exactly how we’re supposed to achieve our goal and like most things in the space industry, it really comes down to money,” Reyno said.
“I know more than enough about the industry to understand there is a huge gap at the moment in terms of delivery systems up into space,” said Goode.
“The joy of private enterprise is you can do it efficiently and cost effectively without all the bureaucracy, without all the overhead that goes into having to deal with a government department.”
Reyno said the venture could make Canada more competitive in space.
“When a nation has this sort of capability, I find it really demonstrates dominance. It’s indicative of technological advancement, indicative of innovation and it’s definitely a sign that country is willing to take risks,” he said.
James Drummond, a physics professor at Dalhousie University and Canada Research Char in Remote Sounding of Atmospheres, has two satellites in orbit right now.
He said a company like Open Space may draw interest from academics.
“It would be nice if we had our own capability,” Drummond said. “It’s certainly an exciting possibility to launch satellites from Canada.”
“Launches are extremely expensive and only come around occasionally. If launches were plentiful and satellites were easier to get into orbit then…if you did lose a satellite then you could quickly replace it with something that worked.”
But he said launching a satellite is just one part of a large equation.
“The launch comes at the end of a long development sequence. You have to construct something that will actually fly in space,” Drummond said, adding maintenance is also something that must be considered.
Open Space expects to be ready for launch by 2018.